History & Mission

Girl Powered Since 1772

History & Mission - Dawn at Salem Academy

Salem Academy and College is the oldest educational institution for girls and women in the United States. Founded in 1772 (four years before the Declaration of Independence was signed!) its Moravian founders believed that girls and women were entitled to the same education as boys and men.

Ever since, Salem has kept true to its mission while evolving with the times to serve the changing needs of girls and women in our society.

Our Mission, Our Promise

Educating girls since 1772, Salem Academy fosters compassionate and creative leaders, prepared for college and life, who chart their paths with character, curiosity, and courage.

Highlights from History

Single Sisters: In its early years, Salem was led by the unmarried women of the Moravian community, known as the Single Sisters. These forward-thinking women were economically self-sufficient — rare for 18th-century women!

Diversity came early to Salem Academy and College. In the 1780s, Salem accepted its first enslaved African-American student; In 1826, it accepted its first Native American student, Sally Ridge.

College-level courses were added during the 1860s and in 1907, the school’s name was changed to Salem Academy and College

Read more about the history of Salem Academy and College; see our historical research, Salem Academy and College’s participation in Universities Studying Slavery, and more.

Latest News

Salem Academy and College Presents Author Sami Schalk

Monday, March 20, 2023
Salem Academy and College, in partnership with Bookmarks, will present author Sami Schalk, Ph.D. on Wednesday, March 29 at 7 p.m.

Salem Academy and College Establishes Future of the Academy Building Task Force

Thursday, March 16, 2023
Salem is exploring the future possibilities for the Salem Academy building with the assistance of Salem Academy alumnae, current staff and community members. This work will result in a plan by the end of 2023 for future use of this important landmark in our community.

PBS North Carolina to Debut “Journey to Salem” Documentary

Tuesday, February 28, 2023
PBS North Carolina will debut the “Journey to Salem” documentary on Wednesday, March 15 at 8 p.m.